France’s sports minister has confirmed that all Ligue 1 fixtures will be played behind closed doors in an attempt to manage the spread of the coronavirus.
Covid-19 has made its way around Europe and several countries have already taken precautionary measures to contain the situation. Italy, the worst affected country outside of Asia, has already made the decision to play all fixtures without spectators for the next month.
Je préside une réunion interne sur le #coronavirus ce matin au ministère pour faire le point sur l’impact sur le sport français et les conditions d’organisation des compétitions sportives, compte tenu du contexte sanitaire exceptionnel. pic.twitter.com/3BauUp0im9
— Roxana Maracineanu (@RoxaMaracineanu) March 9, 2020
Sports minister Roxana Mărăcineanu has now confirmed in a press conference that France will follow suit. Until 15 April, all Ligue 1 fixtures will be played in either completely empty stadiums or in front of crowds of no more than 1,000 people.
“It must be respected that a maximum of 1,000 people can be in a stadium,” Mărăcineanu explained.
“Either the clubs will make the decision to sell just up to 1,000 tickets, or they will prefer to play behind closed doors or postpone the fixture if possible.
“This rule applies until 15 April. This restriction has been decided in coordination with our European partners with the singular aim of protecting our citizens and to prevent the propagation of the coronavirus in our country.
“We are in an exceptional context and the sporting world must take part in this collective effort. I want to applaud the sense of responsibility and the solidarity that world actors are showing with whom I am in permanent contact.”
Alongside Ligue 1 fixtures, Mărăcineanu also confirmed that France’s upcoming friendlies against both Ukraine and Finland will be subject to these restrictions, adding that they will only be played if it is not possible to rearrange them.
Similarly, Champions League and Europa League games in France will also be impacted. Mărăcineanu accepted that fixtures, such as Borussia Dortmund’s meeting with Paris Saint-Germain, cannot be practically rescheduled, so the game will be played behind closed doors.